Homeless Veterans Housing Assistance Vouchers
Find out about federal housing dollars for disabled veterans facing homelessness, learn who is eligible for this HUD-VASH program, and how to apply.
The federal agencies for veterans’ affairs and housing have created a voucher program to help veterans facing homelessness. The program combines financial assistance with case management, helping veterans with challenges based on physical disability, mental illness or substance abuse. It is run by the U.S. Housing & Urban Development agency (HUD) and the VA. The program is called HUD-VASH.
The goal is to provide permanent housing and it applies to both single veterans and veterans with families. To qualify, veterans must be eligible for VA health care, and be homeless or facing eviction. Homeless is taken to mean someone who lacks a regular housing place that is meant for living, not counting shelters.
To be eligible for the program, veterans need to be able to independently complete daily living activities, with assistance from case management and support services. Veterans who enroll in the program are required to engage with case managers and participate in the support services, and treatment recommendations that are designed to help sustain independent housing.
For qualifying veterans, HUD will provide Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for veterans to pay towards privately-owned housing. The VA provides ongoing case management services, through the Veterans’ Services Supportive Housing (VASH) program. VASH services can include assistance with health care, including outpatient health services and hospital services; community-based management; and assistance with housing searches. VA makes these services available at VA medical centers and community-based outreach clinics.
Veterans who are eligible for VA health care can apply for the HUD-VASH program at their local VA homeless program, or by contacting HUD-VASH directly. Other community programs may also help make a referral for you. The VA determines eligibility for the program, which includes review of HUD regulations and income limits. Certain geographic restrictions may apply, as the vouchers are granted in lots based on overall needs of a region. The criteria is based on high numbers of homeless veterans and performance of the local public housing agency. Each year, HUD and the VA make an “award” of a certain number of vouchers to qualifying regions.
Once issued a HUD-VASH voucher, veterans have up to 120 days to find appropriate housing. The vouchers are portable and veterans can move within certain geographic areas, so long as services can be provided at the new location.
For veterans that don’t qualify for HUD-VASH assistance, there are other local, state, and federal government programs that can help. Most of these are “mainstream” programs not specifically targeted at veterans. The primary federal rental assistance programs for veterans are Housing Choice Vouchers, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and public housing. For veterans who qualify in these programs, participants are offered a modest housing unit, and usually required to pay 30% of their income towards rent.
The vouchers can be terminated if veterans refuse to participate without good cause. However, if program administrators agree that the veteran no longer needs supportive services, veterans may be offered regular HUD voucher assistance, in order to free up the HUD-VASH voucher for another person.